A flock of women are set to descend on Warrnambool for the Business and Professional Women (BPW) Victoria state forum in October.
Keynote speaker Carolyn Rasmussen is delighted to be invited to present at the three-day conference.
The historian has spent much of her career researching the life and times of pioneering Australian political couple Maurice and Doris Blackburn. In particular, her research into Mrs Blackburn has sparked a great interest in her work on equal rights.
"The focus of my talk will be centred around how the women's movement never really went away and how Doris contributed to the improvements of women's positions in the workplace," Ms Rasmussen said.
"When I went back to university for my post-graduate studies and began this research I followed Maurice and Doris Blackburn a lot. I became close with their daughter Louisa who had this sense of obligation to tell her parent's stories which then transferred to me.
"There is a long list of women involved in women's rights and issues and when I originally started my research I thought Doris who? There's a number of notable women from the 1940s who have now been forgotten.
"I wanted to interweave the significance of this political couple in the one book."
Ms Rasmussen began working as a freelance historian in 1985 following a career in teaching. Her work has ranged across the history of Victorian public institutions and includes science, technology and education and the involvement of women.
Ms Rasmussen's most recent book The Blackburns: Private Lives, Public Ambition is an account of the distinguished political couple and captures Mrs Blackburn's time in the House of Representatives.
"I think the issues Doris fought against remain the same, but there are nuance changes," Ms Rasmussen said.
"She believed you should bring everyone along with you and she always focused on how to make the world better for those worse off.
"She demonstrates progress isn't linear; it goes up and falls back, but you shouldn't feel despondent by the falls.
"Her mentality was women are entitled to work if they want too and should be treated with equal respect."
Ms Rasmussen will be joined by other speakers Leila McDougall, Dr Kristy Hess, Michelle Steere, Vicki Jellie and Virginia Moloney
BPW South West president Kim Kavanagh is thrilled to bring the state conference to Warrnambool and hopes non-members of the club will come along to the event.
"We are hoping this conference will be a promotion for Warrnambool," she said.
"The jam-packed schedule features the Sound and Light Show at Flagstaff Hill, a tour with the Maremmas, eating out at the Pavilion Cafe and a small boutique shopping experience in Liebig Street.
"Non-members are more than welcome to attend the conference and discover what BPW is all about."
BPW is an international group for women and has clubs in 40 countries and Mrs Kavanagh said BPW is encompassing of women from all walks of life.
"Our group is one meets monthly to network, socialise and talk about women's issues and the south-west has one of the largest numbers in Australia," she said
"Our membership is broad; we have working women, stay-at-home mothers, part and full-time workers, retirees and women right up to their 80's and all are from different industries.
"One of the beauties of our group is we go to all different locations to learn about these businesses as well as socialise and discuss issues and you could be sitting next to a doctor, a teacher, a hairdresser or shop owner."
Early bird tickets are available until September 16 for the BPW Victorian state forum at the Lady Bay Resort from October 18-20 through bpw.com.au/southwest.
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